New Project: Preserving LGBTQ Sites in Maryland

Image of Leon's, purely decorative
Leon’s, a long-standing LGBTQ bar in Baltimore

In summer 2020, I wrapped up a historic context study of LGBTQ History in Maryland, a document to assist historic preservationists seeking to identify and preserve sites related this topic.

While I was working on this study, the project sponsors, Preservation Maryland and the Maryland Historical Trust, secured funding for a second phase of LGBTQ historic preservation work within the state. Since submitting the historic context study, I have been working on this new project, which seeks to document and protect five Maryland LGBTQ historic sites. Specifically, I am now preparing nominations to the National Register of Historic Places for three properties in Baltimore and Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties forms for two properties in Montgomery County, Maryland, which encompasses many of the Washington DC suburbs.

The properties under study are:

  • Leon’s, a longstanding LGBTQ bar in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore;
  • Chase Brexton Health Services, an LGBTQ healthcare provider operating for more than forty years in Baltimore;
  • Monumental Elks’ Lodge #3, home of an order of the African American Elks. In the 1930s, this lodge was the site of a series of Pansy Balls, a primarily African American LGBTQ cultural tradition that served as a precursor to the contemporary LGBTQ ballroom scene;
  • Home of Susan Silber, an LGBTQ activist and lawyer;
  • Home of Bruce Williams, the first openly LGBTQ mayor elected in Maryland.
Elks Monumental Lodge #3 sign. Decorative image.
Elks Monumental Lodge #3, in Baltimore

While the historic context statement allowed me to take the broad view of Maryland LGBTQ history, this phase of the project is an opportunity to go deep on five specific aspects of that history and to protect the physical spaces associated with these stories.